What Works in Music, Arts and Wellbeing? Evidence, Policy and Practice

Alkaa kello
Päättyy kello

Pinni B building, lecture hall B1097 (address: Kanslerinrinne 1, 1st fl.)

University of Tampere
Institute for Advanced Social Research (IASR) in cooperation with the New Social Research Programme (NSR)

Speakers Series 2017-2018, Spring

Professor Norma Daykin, NSR
What Works in Music, Arts and Wellbeing? Evidence, Policy and Practice

Music and arts are widely perceived as having the power to enhance personal and collective wellbeing. Over the last 15 years, the evidence base for has grown, with the adoption of increasingly rigorous research designs to identify biopsychosocial effects of participating in music and arts. Recent work has shifted the focus from health to wellbeing, including notions of eudemonic, hedonistic, experiential, and evaluative wellbeing that inform current policy and practice.

While quantitative research can demonstrate health and wellbeing outcomes from music and arts, qualitative research is needed to explore the underlying processes through which these outcomes are achieved. Drawing on ethnographic research on music in youth justice, military, and acute dementia care settings, I will explore theoretical frameworks that can inform understanding of what works for wellbeing, and what doesn’t work, in specific situations. In this context I will discuss the role of artistic quality as a potential mediator of wellbeing outcomes.

Policy makers have shown increasing interest in this field, through programmes such as cultural commissioning and social prescribing, which seek to harness the benefits of arts and music as part of integrated health and social care. While these developments have created opportunities for innovation, they have also increased anxieties among practitioners and service delivery organisations about the role of evaluation. I will briefly discuss findings from an ESRC funded knowledge exchange project that brought together artists, health professionals and commissioners to explore evaluation challenges and strategies; this led to the commissioning by Public Health England of a standard evaluation framework for arts, health and wellbeing.

As well as examining what works it is important to acknowledge what doesn’t work, examining both benefits and risks of creative practice in health and wellbeing contexts. I will draw both on my research and my community music practice to examine some of the cultural and discursive risks associated with arts engagement, illustrating my examples using extracts of music.

I will conclude by identifying three key challenges: reducing inequalities, adopting suitable evaluation strategies, and assessing artistic quality, that need to be addressed in order to advance the interdisciplinary field of arts, health and wellbeing.

What is the Speakers Series of the University of Tampere?
 - The Speakers Series is a series of Studia Generalia Lectures in the  Study of Society organized weekly by the University of Tampere Institute for Advanced Social Research (IASR) in cooperation with the New Social  Research Programme (NSR). The lectures are given by the Research Fellows  as well as the distinguished guests of the IASR and the NSR. For the  programme, please check the IASR website www.uta.fi/iasr/lectures/.



Research Secretary Marjukka Virkajärvi, +358 50 318 6697, Marjukka.Virkajarvi@uta.fi